SIR, – re The SF letters page, 'EBVs need better targeting', in the May 30 issue.

I question the validity of Mr Vaughan’s correspondence. To believe racehorses are only bred to win the Derby is a gross oversimplification of equine breeding programmes. Over the last 20 years, the Derby winner has only been the top rated horse in the world twice.*

It should also be highlighted that:

1), You can’t compare the stud merit of Frankel to Galileo; Frankel is clearly at the start of his breeding career**

2), Mr Vaughan should list all the winners that have run faster than Mahmoud***, including Golden Horn (2015), Wings of Eagles (2017) and Anthony Van Dyck (2019). He shouldn’t be selective with the facts, eight out of 20 winners this century have run faster than Mahmoud.

3), Mahmoud’s time was 2 minutes 33.8 seconds on exceptionally firm ground, I believe my husband could run it in '32 minutes 36 secs'. The other times should be checked as well.

4), Mahmoud’s time in 1936 was 'hand held', so we should consider how this might have influenced its accuracy.

Most importantly, the analogy falls apart because for safety reasons ground is watered (when required) and going conditions are rarely as fast as days of old.

Like the racing industry, I am sure Texel sheep breeding is full of armchair experts. However, at a population level breeders using recording programmes have made phenomenal rates of genetic progress over the last 30 years.

The unexpected performance of the odd 20-1 shot isn’t going to stop commercial ram buyers shortening the odds and using EBVs to find a 'favourite' – anything else is clearly a gamble.

* New Approach and Sea the Stars.

** Albeit reaching 35 Northern Hemisphere Group winners, faster than any other stallion in history.

*** Also Workforce (2010), Galileo (2001), Australia (2014), Kris Kin (2003) and North Light (2004).

Katherine Luck